Honey Harvest

July 16, 2017 – My first honey harvest!  Talk about exhilarating!  With the weather being sunny lately after all the rain we had I knew I was going to have some extracting to do, and soon.  So, I bought an eight-shallow frame manual extractor from a supplier in Ottawa.

With the help of my Mom and Dad we harvested the top shallow super situated above the queen excluder from hive #2.  Upon inspection, we saw that the bees did a pretty good job capping the honey, using nearly all cells in most frames of the shallow.  My oh my, that shallow full of honey was heavy when I propped it up to see underneath.  My Dad and I went about removing the frames one by one from the hive to an empty box in the RTV.  We worked slowly and methodically.  The bees didn’t get too worked up about us taking their honey reserves, that is until I began gently brushing them off the frames with the bee brush to ensure that we did not take away any stow-aways bees.

After putting the lids back on the hives we drove the RTV back to the roadside building, unloaded the super into the back of my vehicle, where I’d had the forethought to lay newspaper down to catch any honey drips.

I uncapped each frame using my electric uncapping knife.  Having used both methods – heating a regular knife under hot water, as well as the electric uncapping knife – I must say to any other novice beekeepers out there, the electric knife is worth the splurge; the uncapping process is sped up and much more of the comb is left intact, equating to less repair time for the bees to fix the comb/ more time and energy spent on making honey.  After uncapping a frame as carefully as possible, I slid it into position in the extractor.

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The wax cappings

Given that I was doing this in my entranceway, without a table nor all the proper equipment, it was a painfullly slow process, however my excitement banished all concept of time while extracting.   Now, for anyone who knows about the type of extractor I’m talking about, they know that the feet are to be bolted to the floor for stability purposes.  Also they know the centrifugal force of the frames in the basket inside gets to be substantial after cranking the handle.  Since the extractor’s location in my entranceway was temporary, I was not about to drill screws into the tile to anchor the feet for that extra stability.  Instead, AJ and I wrestled to keep the extractor stable while cranking the handle.

Honey Extractor

Honey frames after being spun and honey collecting at the extractor’s bottom .

The honey flew out of the frames onto the sides, then slowly slid down to collect at the bottom of the barrel.  After spinning enough times to remove honey from one side of the frames, we then cranked the spinner handle the other way to remove honey from the other side.  By the time I was satisfied with the amount that we’d extracted from the frames, we stopped for the night to allow the honey to slowly gather at the bottom.  (Coincidentally, our air conditioning is not working and we’re experiencing a heat wave.  The one up side to that is that the honey is moving very well!)

 

 

 

What excitement I felt while opening the honey gate, watching the golden honey pour

Honey Flowing From The Honey Gate

The bounty from my first extraction pouring onto the sieve!

out onto a sieve for filtering.  I was buzzing with pride.  I’ve read that a shallow super typically yields 25-30 lbs of honey.  My yield was 24.5 lbs!

 

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Barrhaven Christmas Sale

Today, Sunday December 4th, we’re at the Barrhaven Christmas Sale today selling maple syrup and maple confectioneries.  The address is 199 Berrigan drive in Barrhaven, Ottawa.  If you’re in the area come check us out!  Other vendors are featuring products like handmade soaps, baby and kids clothes, woodworking, aromatherapy, Tupperware, Christmas Cards and more.

Arnprior Christmas Craft-Bake-Business Fair

I’ve been in the kitchen all day today preparing for the One of a Kind Christmas Craft-Bake -Business Fair, happening from 10:00-4:00 this Saturday in Arnprior at the Nick Smith Centre, 77 James St.  On the docket for today was 2 batches of maple butter.  Tomorrow I’ll change my focus to maple cones, then Thursday on to maple pies, and fudge on Friday.  By the end of the week my house will be full of sweet smells of decadence, aromas of maple perfuming the air.  This will be my first time attending the Arnprior craft fair.  It’s a bit further from home, yet still local and I’m still hopeful to see some familiar faces.  My hopes are that branching out to the Arnprior fair will help in distinguishing Julia’s Tree Stand Maple Syrup as a local, high quality maple syrup brand.

If you’re an Arnprior local, come find me at the fair!  For more info, click here.  Hope to see you there!

Constance Bay Community Market 2016

Sitting under my tent at the Constance Bay Community Market I couldn’t help but feel I was in the right place at the right time again, making connections  The weather was overcast and overall attendance to the market was down.  Even so, I was happy to be connecting with individuals at a community event.  The organizer, Cindy does a great job of putting everything together.  One passerby recognized me from last year, commenting that she’d love to buy some more syrup but still had some from last year at home.  The next events I’m attending are the Kinburn and Arnprior Christmas Markets.  I know I’ll recognize plenty of faces at the Kinburn market, though this is my first year going to the Arnprior market; I must say I’m excited at the this expansion and increase in exposure.

Fall and Christmas Markets 2016

Last year I thoroughly enjoyed spending time at the Constance Bay Community Market, and the Kinburn Christmas Craft Sale.  I signed up for both again this year, starting this coming Saturday.  I am spending the bulk of my free time this week preparing goodies to sell in addition to maple syrup, including maple butter, maple fudge, and maple pie.  Yesterday I focused on making pastry for the maple pies, which I’ll sell by the slice, or for those interested, by the pie.  I’ll make the filling and assemble the pies the day before the market, on Friday.  This morning I changed gears, focusing instead on whipping up a batch of maple butter.  It filled the house with a maple aroma, giving me the sense of being in the sugar shack again, surrounded by maple scented mist.  My favorite ways of enjoying maple butter are on toast, as icing on muffins and cakes, or as a glaze on chicken.  Tomorrow my aims are to make at least 60 maple cones, then Thursday is fudge day! MMmm mmm MMMMM!

Next year my hope is to have honey for sale too.  I’m very excited by all the different possibilities of products bringing honey into the mix presents.  From liquid honey to comb honey, beeswax candles and even beeswax lotions, there are so many possibilities.  I am open to suggestions and if any readers have any ideas please let me know!  Right now I’m intrigued by the idea of a maple scented candle…

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About

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My Seasonal Harvest blog is an effort to share my passion for the outdoors, nature and the environment with others, and connect with like-minded individuals.  Here I share my experiences as a maple syrup producer, beekeeper and gardener.

I love good food.  Moreover, I genuinely appreciate knowing where my food comes from.  Knowing how my food got from its raw state to my plate gives me great satisfaction: knowing the trees my maple syrup came from, knowing the garden my vegetables were grown in, knowing my bees have access to food that hasn’t been sprayed with toxic chemicals, or pesticides.  This is why I am a maple syrup producer, a  beekeeper, and a gardener.

The maple syrup pursuits I share here are really family pursuits.  A tremendous amount of work goes into the maple syrup season and I am thankful to everyone who helps out. The slogan of Julia’s Tree Stand Maple Syrup, From my trees to your table should really be ‘From our trees…’ or at the very leastFrom my family’s trees…’.  I chose to use ‘my’ to emphasize that I am involved in every step of the process and know exactly what is in my maple syrup, that I am confident it is 100% pure.

My newest pursuit, beekeeping gives me great joy.  I am thrilled to see my colonies grow and flourish.  For me, beekeeping is a natural extension of my passion for the outdoors, environment and nature.

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Maple Syrup Products

I produce a number of sweet treats.  My maple syrup is bottled in a number of different sizes, including 250mL, 500mL, 1L, 1.89L.  The maple products I create from my maple syrup are maple butter, maple fudge, and a very decadent maple pie (think mapley butter tart).  Next year I will start harvesting honey from my bees.  I’ve been told to expect to get anywhere 50-100 lbs of surplus honey per hive.  Multiply that by 8 hives and I’m going to be swimming in it.  I think that’s when I’ll hang out my shingle and start selling honey and honey-based products.  Until then I’ll experiment with different recipes to find the best flavour, and try my hand at making lotions, beeswax lip balms and candles, etc.

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Advice

An interesting conversation I had with the head beekeeper of the Ottawa Community Beekeepers Association stands out in my head.  He told me to always be thinking about the next winter – in the fall, do the bees have enough honey stores in the hive?  Winter is coming.  Is there enough brood for the winter cluster?  Winter is coming.  In the summer, do the bees have enough to forage on?  Winter is coming.  Are the bee pests at a manageable level?  Winter is coming.  In the spring, is colony build up happening fast enough?  Winter is coming.  Is my queen healthy and strong?  Winter is coming.  The list goes on.  He stressed to always be two steps ahead in terms of preparation.  As with most things in life, my honey production will depend on my preparation and anticipating my bees needs.

Bee Arrival

 

I became a beekeeper today with the arrival of my bees.  It was an exhilarating day.  I chose to get my bees from a local bee supplier, Mahmoud Elzeftawi at Forestdew Apiaries lives.  I’m glad I chose to get the bees from a nearby location: driving with three nucs in the trunk sure made me nervous.  When I picked up a box to move it, the buzzing and vibrations coming from the bees inside the box sent a thrill through me.

With the help of my parents and partner we prepared the hive site in the morning and installed the bees in the late afternoon.  More photos, explanations and updates to come in the next couple of days.